Royal Commission report day 2 page 3
The Royal Commission evidence for 24/3/1881
(see also introduction to day 2 )
Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence
350 You say it was on the 2nd November you saw the man?- Yes and it was on the same day I saw this. I had with me one good blackfellow - a Darling black tracker-who traced them up within a quarter of a mile of Barnawatha. By that time-the time we reached there-it was dark and the tracker could proceed no further, but the tracks were leading away to the right.
352 Had you good proof then that you were on the track of the Kellys?- Yes, up to reaching the common.
353 You are satisfied they were the Kellys?- Decidedly.
354 That was their camp you came across?- Decidedly, and their horses-from the description of both Margery and Mrs. William Baumgarten they were decidedly the horses and the dress of the men, and the arms that had been taken from the police. There was no doubt about that whatever. They passed between Wangaratta and Everton, upon the 3rd, on their return. Between the interval before the return, and before I heard of this, I spent some time down there fruitlessly searching, to the punts and other places to see if and get traces of them crossing the river by Baumgarten's, and I found they could not cross the river, and it was evident their intention was to cross the river, but the river had risen very high-the greatest flood that had taken place for a very long time-and they were baffled and could not cross. I do not think since the river has been so high, but you will observe that it appears I lost the trace of them when it got dark on the 2nd: they passed through Wangaratta and Everton the following night, the 3rd.
355 How far distant is that?- I should say 60 or 70 miles. They had just ridden straight back without a halt. They rested in the lagoon, and rested horses there, and ridden straight back without a halt.
356 Then did you ascertain they had passed through Everton?- Yes, they called at certain places, and were recognised. I need not repeat to you the next event.
358 Did you lose all trace of them then?- Yes; after I heard they had passed through Everton on the night of the 3rd.
359 From that point , did you lose all trace of them after they passed through Wangaratta ?- Yes.
360 For how long?- The next trace of them was sometime afterwards. Captain Standish came up 6th November.
361 The Black - trackers where not engaged?- No; we had a few black-trackers picked up here and there, and that man I had with me was a really skilled black. At that time we could get little or no assistance from the inhabitants, and the people were all though the country in such a state of terror. Civility was shown us in every town in the district, but no information given. The people seemed to be more afraid of the gang than confident in the police. The next time that I heard of them was on the occasion, about the 7th of November, when Captain Standish happened accidentally to be up in Benalla with me. He came up to talk over matters with me , and we went up to Beechworth that night as related by him. I may state that on my arrival there-we arrived at dark-and when daylight broke I found a very very large number of police collected together, upwards of fifty mounted men, that had joined us, and we had a great cavalcade.
362 Was that the time the force was increased?- In the interval reinforcements had been sent. Did I mention that on the morning when we were proceeding to that place the police poured in a great cavalcade?
363 Search parties returning?- No; they had been gathered there specially.
364 By your orders?- No..
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